Tag Archives: surrealism

Film Review “Mother!” #NetflixReview @MotherMovie @DarrenAronofsky

I couldn’t take my eyes off it. Sadly, I don’t ever want to set my eyes on it again.

Mother! stars Jennifer Lawrence as “Mother”, a devoted wife to emotionally damaged artist “Him” (Javier Bardem) who is suffering a debilitating bout of writer’s block. She single-handedly rebuilds his childhood home, which had mysteriously burnt down, in the hope that this idyll in the middle of nowhere will reignite his creative, and perhaps even sexual, passions. However, this paradise-in-the-making is disturbed as a series of unexpected random visitors pay them a visit from out of nowhere, to catastrophic results. Weird, unique, challenging: director Darren Aronofsky is back.

The acting from Lawrence, Bardem, and Michael Pfeiffer is topnotch, perhaps even Oscar-worthy. Ed Harris is pretty special in this, too. They really are on top of their game here. The set up and first third of the film is wonderful, classic almost Twilight Zone mystery territory: who are these people, what do they really want, and why is everyone — including her husband — acting so off? The film is both a pensive slow-mover and at the same time a rocket-charged rollercoaster. I couldn’t take my eyes off it.

Sadly, I don’t ever want to set my eyes on it again. The film totally goes off its rocker after an unfortunate incident occurs in the house. The imagery and the acting and set design were magnificent and brutal. I couldn’t believe what I was seeing. None-the-less, any pretence of story is launched through the window (or the wall) with all the ferocity of Yuriy Sedykh’s hammer throw at the 1986 European Championships. It makes no sense, nor does it want to. Aronofsky is a challenging but brilliant filmmaker (Black Swan, Requiem for a Dream, Pi), but this film just eats itself in pretension (you already noticed the “names” of our two protagonists, didn’t you? “Mother” and “Him”). Both totally open-ended and easy to interpret any way you want — as per our writer’s own work (ooooh meta) — and yet incredibly straight-forward, this movie doesn’t so much think it’s cleverer than it is, but rather it doesn’t give a flying f***. Frankly, it’s bonkers, but in a way that makes no sense (in contrast to Aronofsky’s previous works).

As I have said, this movie has genuine Oscar contender vibes. So why only two stars? Because story has to come first, that’s why; a movie that tosses story out of the window to go down some kind of nightmarish drug trip which makes no sense at all, cannot have a “good” rating no matter how undoubtedly brilliant aspects of the film are. The last section of the film began to genuinely test my patience with its out-and-out nonsense. Being a visionary director who has succeeded in getting first rate performances out of his team is not an excuse for self-wallowy rubbish.

2/5

© 2021-2022 Bryan A. J. Parry

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HEATH LEDGER RIP #HeathLedgerRIP

This article was originally published the day after Heath Ledger died. It was my way of coping with a celebrity death that genuinely shook me. Fourteen years later, I repost it. Read the original editorial note below to understand what I was trying to do here. Enjoy.

Editorial note: A slightly surrealistic spoof of a tabloid article in the style of The Sun or somesuch. The paper is temporarily called The Fun.

–       Bryan A J Parry (23/1/08)

HEATH LEDGEND

ACTING HYPERSTAR HEATH LEDGER, HEREAFTER KNOWN VARIOUSLY AS HEATH LEDGER, HEATH, HEATH LEDGEND, OR “THE LEDGE”, HAS DIED. However, unlike in Heath’s blockbuster smash “The Brothers Grimm”, this isn’t all just a scam set up by conmen wiggling some duvet covers from the rafters and going “woo” a bit. He really is dead.

His brief but glamorous career saw him play such diverse roles as a knight in shining armour in the to be posthumously renamed “Heath Ledger’s A Knight’s Tale”. Whereas “Brokeback Cowboy” saw The Ledge playing the part of a gay cowboy who became crippled in a freak riding accident. And his last ever film, “The Dark Knight” (starring Batman, not Trevor McDonald as stated in yesterday’s The Fun), in an ironic twist of fate, has Ledgend play the part of the affable joker, a far cry from yesterday’s events, as nothing is less funny than dying. Life imitating art? No.

“The Dark Knight” will be on general release on pirate in the Spring. Turn to page 8 for your first six, free Heath Ledgend-shaped Bat-tokens.

The world of celebritydom was devastated.

Deranged racist Mel Gibson took a moment to reflect amid his hectic schedule of evangelising to say something decent for a change.

“As an Australian [and white], it is painful to hear of the death of a brother [and fellow milk-skin]. My thoughts and prayers, and the thoughts and prayers of my wife, my children, my church, and my fans are with him”.

Gibson, 52, went on to say how he is considering the viability of a bioflick based loosely around Heath Ledgend’s life.

“It will probably have him [ = Heath “The Legend” Ledgend] reprising his role as William Thatcher from ‘A Knight’s Tale’, but twisted and enraged by the death of his brother in my civil war masterpiece ‘The Patriot’. It’s probably gonna be necessary to computer animate it, and I’ve been talking to Dreamworks about this”. When asked if having a dead man star in his own production was even possible, Gibson shrugged his shoulders. “Tupac manages it”, he said.

“Why has God taken one of our finest actors from us? The Jews!!” Gibson added, in a moment of rare, frothy-mouthed passion, it has been alleged. Gibson was unfortunately unable to confirm or deny the rumoured outburst of rabidity as he was on a rally at the time, we assume.

Bruce Wallaby, producer of Home and Away in the 80s, recalls his memory of the late Heath: “I remember seeing this scrawny, blonde, mop-haired kid on the set one day. Thought it was some local kid trying to catch a glimpse of his idols. So I called security”. Only later on that evening, when Ledger had been released from jail, did Wallaby realise he’d seen actor legend-in-the-making, Heath Ledgend.  

“I’m deeply saddened. In Leith Hedger Britain has lost one of her finest daughters”, said Secretary for State, Jacqui Smith MP.

The PM was equally moved, saying: “Little Larry was only three years old. My deepest thoughts go out to his family at this time”.

The Fun newspaper urges all readers to fill in the coupon below with your name and address to support our “Legends Never Die” campaign where we petition the PM to put his money where his mouth is – not literally – and officially change Heath Ledger’s name by Deed Poll to “Heath Ledgend”. It’s what Heath would have wanted.

In other news, Heath Ledgend’s “Brothers Grimm” co-star Matt Damon was fined for speeding. He has accrued three Hollywood points.

© 2008, 2022 Bryan A. J. Parry

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Netflix Film Review “Get Out” (2017) #NetflixReview @GetOutMovie #GetOutMovie @JordanPeele

a refreshing mix of familiar ingredients in a new form, the hallmark of much groundbreaking work

Jordan Peele’s feature debut as writer-director, Get Out, is the story of young African-American Chris (Daniel Kaluuya) and his Caucasian Apple Pie American girlfriend Rose Armitage (Allison Williams). They take a road trip to meet Rose’s posh WASP family for the first time. Chris is nervous, but Rose reassures him: “They woulda voted for Obama a third time if they could!”. Her family greets him with warm and open arms. But something’s amiss, and Chris just can’t put his finger on it. But as the hours and days go by, Chris begins to realise something is very wrong with the Armitages.

Get Out is a wonderful and surprising horror-mystery-thriller which keeps you guessing until near the end. It’s quite different: a refreshing mix of familiar ingredients in a new form, the hallmark of much groundbreaking work.

It’s thrilling and mysterious, and at times surreal and funny. I thought this worked well, but surrealism and comedy might be a discordant turn-off for some viewers.

Peele says it’s a “social horror”. And it’s certain that it’s on the back of this antiracist message that the film picked up four Oscar noms and one win. Indeed, the point he makes — that white liberals can have a racism every bit as dangerous if not more so than hillbillies can — is important and not often made in cinema. Sad,ly the message was undercut by the thoroughly surreal nature of proceedings; surrealism is a key part to making satire effective, but I feel things stretched too far in this picture. Frankly, this film is best viewed as a horror-mystery-thriller and not as some sort of satirical social commentary (although your Guardian-reading friends surely sold it to you as such).

The final twist seemed a step too far into absurdity to make its social satirical points. But worse, it isn’t quite consistent with what comes before. Although fair play to writer-director Jordan Peele: the ending wasn’t merely tacked on as so often is the case with the shock twist, but was clearly the direction we were headed in all along, with hindsight. Nonetheless, it doesn’t really work. And the biggest twist is revealed through something unbelievable (a scheming character just leaving something incriminating lying about).

Original, refreshing, thrilling, albeit with an ending that doesn’t quite work. Just don’t watch it as a serious take-down of racism.

4/5

© 2020-2021 Bryan A. J. Parry

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